Studies show that a lack of access to healthy foods can contribute to a poor diet and lead to higher levels of diet-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Since 2011, the federal government has spent almost $500 million to improve food store access in neighborhoods lacking large, well-stocked grocery stores, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service.
States and local governments have also launched programs to attract supermarkets or improve stores in underserved areas. Massachusetts ranks 48th in the nation for grocery store access per capita. And according to a nonprofit that supports the healthy food movement, low-income areas and communities of color are hardest hit by this lack of access to healthy foods.